Dog Ear Infections: Symptoms, Treatments, and Prevention

For many years now, ear infections have been the second most common reason why dogs visit the veterinarian.

Your dog is most likely a loved and integral member of your family, and you’d be right to be concerned if they’re acting strangely. Dog ear infections can be a painful experience for pets and can sadly lead to more serious issues if not treated.

Half the battle of fixing your poor pup’s ears, though, is knowing what to look for.

If you’re looking for the symptoms, treatments, and preventive measures for dog ear infections, we’ve got some helpful info for you to check out.

What are the Symptoms of Dog Ear Infections?

Unlike an adult (or even a child) your canine friend isn’t going to be able to tell you what’s wrong when they aren’t feeling well.

It would be nice if they could talk to you, but you’re going to have to rely on body language and other tell-tale signs of dog ear infection symptoms.

Pets can tell you a lot without saying anything at all.

One of the most common signs is going to be your dog shaking its head and pawing at its ear. Sometimes, this might look like a playful gesture, but if your dog is swatting and trying to scratch its ear often, it could be a sign of an ear infection.

Your dog’s ear might also become red and look inflamed from a combination of the infection itself and from pawing and scratching the ear. If you want to go in for a closer look, you may even smell very pungent yeasty odors or a dark, smelly discharge.

Dog ear infections can also cause balance issues with your pet. If your fluffy companion seems to be dizzy, such as walking in circles, stumbling often, or making unusual eye movements be prepared for possible treatments.

No matter the signs, it’s important to act right away. Just like in humans, ear infections can turn from an annoyance to a dangerous condition without proper care.

Dog ear infections can lead to deafness, paralysis, and permanent damage to the middle ear.

Treatments for Dog Ear Infections

If you notice any of these symptoms and you’re worried, congratulations, you’re a good pet parent.

That being said, don’t get too worked up. There is some over the counter treatment for dog ear infections.

If you’d like to look at some top-reviewed dog ear drops, check out this convenient list here.

If insurance is a problem, and you’re wondering how to treat dog ear infections without a vet, thankfully, there are options available.

Buying toys for your pets may be more fun but shelling out the cash for helpful medication is a necessary measure to take. Don’t skimp on the budget when it comes to their welfare.

That being said, getting a proper diagnosis from a veterinarian is still highly recommended.

A trained doctor will be able to use any background history you provide to assess if it’s really an ear infection or just something that seems eerily similar.

Through visual cues with a magnifying ear cone, microscopic examinations, or even biopsies and x-rays for more serious conditions, you’ll have a clearer understanding of what’s wrong.

A veterinarian will also have the ability to sedate your pet if the pain is too great or if they have trouble being handled.

After a proper examination, treatments may include any or all of the following:

  • Thorough cleaning of dog’s ears
  • Topical medication or antibiotic application and prescription
  • Pain prescription or steroids for inflammation

The treatment will continue with you at the home, though. You may have to continue cleaning your dog’s ears and apply the medication at different times.

How long it will take to heal dog ear infections is dependent on your pet and the seriousness of the condition, though.

It could take as little as a week to as long as multiple months. Sadly, in some cases, the issue may be chronic. In that case, the care and guidance of a veterinarian are especially necessary.

No matter what, it is important to follow your vet’s directions for treatment carefully. Failure to clean the ear or apply medication correctly could lead to recurring issues.

If prescribed medication, it’s also important to use it in its entirety. Even if your pup seems to be getting better, you shouldn’t stop the treatment halfway through.

How to Prevent Dog Ear Infections

Dog’s ear canals are different from humans in that they are more vertical than horizontal. Due to their unique shape, they are more likely to retain fluid and debris, which is a common cause of ear infections.

Some common causes include:

  • Overabundance of moisture
  • Wax buildup
  • Viruses
  • Mites
  • Yeast and/or fungus
  • Bacteria
  • Allergies

So, if you’re wondering how you can keep an ear infection from happening in the first place, be sure to check your dog’s ears regularly.

Even if they seem fine, be sure to look for redness, swelling, scaly skin, discharge, etc. when you can.

Clean your dog’s ears if it seems necessary. If you have already visited a vet for an ear infection, they may provide or recommend a solution that you can use with cotton balls.

Your vet will have good advice for cleaning method and how often you should do this. Sometimes, an overabundance of cleaning or cleaning ears too vigorously can do more harm than good.

If your dog submerges in water, be sure to dry their ears thoroughly when they’re out. Again, water retention in the ear is a common cause of ear infections.

Finally, make sure to groom your dog’s ears if they have excessive hair. This can be done by a professional groomer, or your vet may have tips on how to do it yourself.

Continue Care for a Happy, Healthy Dog

Just the same as with humans, dog ear infections can be excruciating.

If not treated properly, they can even lead to life-threatening conditions. You need to look for tell-tale signs that your dog has an ear infection so you can properly treat it and prevent it from happening in the future.

If you love your dog as much as it loves you, take a look at one of our recent blog posts on raising a happy pet!

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